3 Fast-Food Chains Are Serving Customized Ads to Consumers via Print

A QR code in a Brazilian newspaper recently led readers to deals from nearby locations

Happy Meal, Big Mac, Whopper, Sub
For instance, early morning readers likely saw ads for coffee and breakfast sandwiches for the chain closest to them.
McDonald's, Burger King, Subway

McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway are “serving” ads programmatically through an unlikely medium: newspapers.

With help from digital agency Isobar Brazil, the three chains recently ran promotions that could only be accessed through a QR code in Brazilian newspaper O Estado de São Paulo. If readers opted to scan it, their geolocation (if accessible) and time of day would then determine what kind of ad they would see.

For instance, early morning readers likely saw ads for coffee and breakfast sandwiches for the chain closest to them.

“The new format allows advertisers in the same segment to split the page and offer, in real-time, their best deals to the readers,” Isobar Brazil said.

According to Rui Branquinho, chief creative officer at Isobar Brazil, the ad is still in beta. McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway were chosen for the experiment because they are “the most recognized in the category” and are prevalent throughout the city of São Paulo, he explained.

The ad prompts readers to scan the ad and find out what deals are near.

As the ad format evolves (and expands to other brands), Branquinho said it will give marketers the ability to adjust their offers depending on how competitors are doing.

“For the next phase, the second nearest brand to the consumer can make an offer that really attracts the consumer, making him walk a little more to the brand’s store,” he said. “At this point, we’ll be able to inform the involved brands on the percentage of consumers who opted for the offer of the brand one or brand two.”

Ana Leão, managing director of Isobar São Paulo, said that the format reflects the agency’s focus on “delivering relevant experiences” to consumers.

“By bringing the programmatic model to offline media, the newspaper incorporates the efficiency provided by the digital environment. It is both unusual and beneficial for consumers and brands,” she said.

Isobar World Sourcing, the agency’s development center located in Porto Alegre in Brazil, developed the technology used to power the ad. The programmatic strategy was designed in partnership with Amnet, Dentsu Aegis Network’s programmatic media trading desk in Brazil.

The QR-enabled newspaper ad comes as other marketers are experimenting with ways to pair print with digital. Hearst, owner of magazines including Elle, Cosmopolitan and Country Living, is currently tracking what readers click online and using those behaviors to serve the same magazine subscribers targeted ads in print.

Credits:
Client: O Estado de São Paulo
Product: Estadão EXPRESSO
Agency: Isobar
CCO Isobar Brasil: Rui Branquinho
Creatives: Rui Branquinho e Guime Davidson
IWS: Luiz Siqueira, Andre Trevisani, Cainã Murtinho, Marco Almeida, Aline Bof, Thiago Winkler
Client Services: Ana Leão, Mariana Cantarelli
Media: Carol Magalhães, Thyago Corrêa
Chief Product Officer: Aloisio Pinto
BI: Thiago Micheloni
Project: Fabio Dias
Dentsu Aegis Network: Guilherme Horácio, Marcio Zorzella, Marina Tunes
Client’s approval: Paulo Pessoa and Daniel Canello (OESP)
Brands: McDonalds, Burger King and Subway